Early international involvement in massacre inquiry urged

[TamilNet, Thursday, 02 November 2000, 16:46 GMT]
The Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) has told the Minister of Justice that it is only the very early active involvement of neutral independent international investigators that can ensure a credible investigative process into the Bandarawela-Bindunuwewa massacre.

In a letter to Mr.Batty Weerakone, Minister of Justice, TULF's Secretary General Mr.R.Sampanthan said justice must not only be done, it must also appear to be done. In the Bandarawela massacre investigations, many people fear that justice will not be done, and there will be a cover-up, he said. Certain events that have taken place such as the arrest, and the effort to implicate a large number of villagers justify such thinking, he added.

The investigators thus far being handled only by the Police, some members of whom are suspects, raises legitimate doubts in the minds of the people, in regard to the impartiality of the role of the Police said the TULF General Secretary.

He further said that given the pathetic past experiences in cases in which Tamils have been victims, it cannot be said that the fears of such people is not well founded.

"I repeat that, it is only the very early active involvement of neutral independent international investigators, that can infuse the criminal investigative process with an acceptable degree of credibility, " said Mr.Sampanthan in his letter.

Mr.Sampanthan has raised several questions regarding the safety of the surviving detainees in the Bandarawela massacre.

Mr.Sampanthan said that the surviving detainees who could be prime witnesses still continue to be in the custody of the security forces, and that it would appear that some members of the security forces are being held for further investigation.

"Would not the surviving detainees continuing in such custody, be inimical to the surviving detainees being able to testify independently and without fear, he asked. Is it not absolutely necessary that the surviving detainees should no longer be in the custody of the security forces, if the surviving detainees are to testify independently and without fear? It is the duty of the Government to ensure this", he stated.

"The statements of the surviving detainees not being correctly recorded or being distorted could derail the whole investigative process. The surviving detainees should at all times have the benefit of legal assistance. There are non-governmental organizations (NGO) willing to make such assistance available. The government should issue necessary instructions to ensure this. The effective involvement of a representative of the Attorney Genera's department could do some extent be a safeguard. The Government should take the necessary steps in this regard", said Mr.Sampanthan.

Mr.Sampanthan has forwarded a copy of this letter to the President of Sri Lanka for necessary action.

 

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